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BUSINESS NERD Whether you’re supervising an extension to a listed residential property or managing an expensive railway infrastructure project, as a surveyor you’ll often find yourself responsible for grand visions and big budgets.

It can be an extremely rewarding profession, but that reward doesn’t come without risk. From miscalculations that cause delays to carelessly left equipment that causes an accident, you could be held liable for all manner of incidents.

One way to protect yourself in these scenarios is to take out comprehensive insurance policies that, for a monthly premium, can help cover legal and compensation costs.

What is surveyors’ professional indemnity insurance?

Professional indemnity insurance usually takes top billing in a surveyors’ insurance policy.

It can provide cover for the cost of defending a claim of negligence, breach of contract, or any scenario in which a client alleges personal or financial loss as a result of your business services. It can also help with the cost of compensation due to clients from a successful claim.

For example, you might fail to notice a rotten timber beam that needs to be replaced, at cost, further down the line. Or, you might be accused of making errors in data collection for the track layout of a major new rail line, which causes severe delays (and that’s before the trains are even running).

Professional Indemnity insurance for surveyors could provide financial security in both circumstances. It can also provide cover if your business were accused of a breach of confidence, defamation, or even infringement of intellectual property rights.

» MORE: What is professional indemnity insurance?

What other types of insurance should surveyors consider?

Your job will likely involve visiting project sites, bringing you into frequent contact with members of the public. That’s why surveyors should consider the benefits of adding public liability insurance to their policy. This product can support you with legal and compensation costs in the event that your business activities cause injury, or even death, or if it causes a member of the public’s property to be lost or damaged.

Whether a passerby trips over a levelling instrument left on the pavement or you accidentally shatter a glass door at a commercial property, public liability can help with the costs that might arise.

You might also want to protect yourself against injuries with personal accident insurance, which can help cover hospital costs and some lost income if an injury – either while working or not – puts you out of action. Additionally, personal accident cover can provide compensation to your beneficiaries in the event of your death.

Tools insurance is another policy to consider. It can provide compensation to help pay for repairs and replacements if your specialist tools – such as your laser levels or GPS equipment – are lost, stolen, or damaged.

In addition to specialist tools, you might also want to protect more general equipment, such as your phone and laptop, with business and office equipment insurance. As with tools insurance, business and office equipment insurance can help to cover the cost of damaged, stolen or lost equipment.

Speaking of electronics, you’re likely to be dealing with a lot of sensitive information when working on big projects, including project particulars and digital client records with loads of personal information on your clients. If you’re hacked and there is a data breach or an unsecured device is stolen, cyber and data insurance will help you pay any resulting legal and data recovery costs.

Do I need surveyors’ insurance?

You’ll need to have employers’ liability insurance if you employ anyone else, unless they are based abroad or a member of your direct family. If you don’t have adequate cover, you could be fined up to £2,500 a day.

Additionally, to be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), you’re required to have surveyors’ professional indemnity insurance as a condition of membership.

The RICS demands the following minimums levels of indemnity cover, tiered by your firm’s turnover:

  • £100,000 turnover or less – £250,000 minimum indemnity cover
  • £100,001 to £200,000 turnover – £500,000 minimum indemnity cover
  • Over £200,000 turnover – £1 million minimum limit of indemnity

You don’t have to be an RICS member to be a practising surveyor but, as a globally recognised organisation, it can be a useful indication of your skills and qualifications to clients.

What does surveyors’ insurance cover?

Surveyors’ insurance is not one policy, but rather a package that can include products that can cover you in various situations.

It often includes:

  • professional indemnity insurance
  • public liability insurance
  • personal accident insurance
  • tools insurance
  • business and office equipment insurance

Most insurance providers will allow you to pick the policies that suit you, meaning that some of the above may not be relevant. At the same time, you may want to consider options not included here, such as cyber insurance and vehicle insurance.

What isn’t usually covered by surveyors’ insurance?

If you use your own car to drive to and from site visits, it won’t be protected by personal car insurance. You’ll need to insure it under Business Class 1 Car insurance, which covers social, domestic and leisure use as well as for driving between work locations.

If you drive a van for work, you will need to take out business van insurance, which will provide ‘carriage of own goods’ cover. These will likely need to be arranged separately to your business insurance package and be taken out through a car insurance provider.

How much does surveyors’ insurance cost?

The cost of your surveyors’ insurance policy will be dictated by the types of cover you choose, the level of cover, and your claims history.

For example, if you don’t have any employees, you won’t need employers’ liability insurance, which will reduce the cost of your premium. And if you have £5,000 in tools that need to be insured, you may pay less than someone who needs £10,000 in tools cover.

A surveyor who has had a major claim made against them in the past, such as a breach of contract because they wrote a positive report on a property, which was inaccurate, will also likely pay more for their monthly premium than a surveyor with no claims history because the provider assumes they’re more likely to make subsequent claims.

How to choose the best surveyors’ insurance policy for your needs

Once you’ve established your needs, it’s time to survey the insurance landscape and find a policy that matches your unique requirements. Or, you can use the tool on this page to generate a quote for a business insurance package.

Just click 'start your quote' and follow the step-by-step process.

Surveyors’ Insurance FAQs

What insurance does a surveyor need?

As a surveyor, if you employ anyone in the UK who is not in your direct family, you will need employer’s liability insurance worth at least £5 million.

Beyond that, you should consider taking out a policy including professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance and tools insurance if these make sense to your business needs.

If you intend to join the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), you will need professional indemnity insurance to be eligible.

» MORE: Do I need business insurance?

What car insurance do I need as a surveyor?

If you use your car to drive between site visits, you should take out Business Class 1 car insurance, which will cover any loss, theft or damage that occurs and get you back on the road as soon as possible after an accident. If you store your tools in your vehicle, they should be protected under tools insurance.

If you drive a van in the same way, then you will need business van insurance that includes ‘carriage of own goods’ to provide cover for your transported equipment.

How much professional indemnity insurance do I need as a surveyor?

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) requires a certain minimum level of professional indemnity insurance, dependent on your turnover, as a condition of membership.

However, even if you’re not a member, RICS provides useful guidelines for how much professional indemnity insurance surveyors should consider taking out.

The required minimums are:

  • £100,000 turnover or less – £250,000 minimum indemnity cover
  • £100,001 to £200,000 turnover – £500,000 minimum indemnity cover
  • Over £200,000 turnover – £1 million minimum limit of indemnity

While professional indemnity insurance is not legally required for surveyors, it is worth considering and may be required not only by the RICS but also the clients who hire you. If you do decide to take out professional indemnity cover you should ensure you have enough cover to match your needs.

About the author

Henry Williams
Henry is passionate about helping individuals and businesses stay informed. Over the last 8 years, he’s written for startup and small business sites, with a focus on finance, insurance, and websites. Read more
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